- English (United States)
A coffee company that was founded in Kyoto after the end of WW2 has moved to Sakai and joined up with local businesses to boost up coffee and culture. Kyoto and Sakai share a common bond in Sen No Rikyu and Mikiya Coffee has crafted a special blend that pairs well with traditional Japanese wagashi. We went to Mikiya Coffee to find out more.
Sen No Rikyu’s Kyoto to Sakai connection
The grandfather of Takahisa Sonoda (the current president of Mikiya) began selling coffee from a hand pulled rear car in 1947, in Kyoto. Many writers in Kyoto loved coffee at that time. In 1974 a branch office was built in Sakai and 10 years ago the main factory was moved from Kyoto to Sakai. Just 8 minutes from Mikunigaoka Station on Route 310, and quite near the Nintoku Tumulus, they secured a great location in the heart of Sakai. The office is on the 2nd floor, a cafe and shop on the 1st floor, and the roaster and processing building is next door.
The concept for coffee that goes with wagashi
Originally from Kyoto and now firmly entrenched in Sakai, the company has similarities with the tea master, Sen No Rikyu. Mikiya Coffee roasts and sells it’s own original blends of coffee. Historically, the tea ceremony was extremely common in Japan but has recently been displaced by the popularity of coffee. It was with this in mind that Mikiya started creating a new blend.
The Sen No Rikyu series of coffee was designed to match with the flavor of anko. Since wagashi is traditionally eaten with macha, and macha is drunk without sugar or cream, Sen No Rikyu coffee is meant to be drunk black. The coffee is air roasted to create a subtle, mild flavor.
Spreading a new coffee culture in Sakai
The Sen No Rikyu coffee is meant to be enjoyed with wagashi, and various sets are offered in the cafe. Takahisa Sonoda told us that he wants the coffee and wagashi set to rival the popularity of “morning” sets in Nagoya cafes.
The coffee is not served in a mug, but instead comes in a traditional teapot, with handleless tea cup. It is served with wagashi in an old-fashioned box, on a classic tray. The mixture of old and new Japanese traditions and styles in a new way certainly is cool.
Boosting Sakai through coffee
In an effort to connect with and uplift the Sakai community and economy they have begun offering their sets to local hotels and other businesses. They have also linked up with Sakai wagashi makers to create a bus tour that visits the various shops and ends at the Mikiya cafe.
In another effort to promote Sakai, Mr. Sonoda began placing stickers from the Sakai Blazers volleyball team on the Sen No Rikyu series packages, and 5 yen from each package is donated to the team. To not only think of ways to connect and enrich Sakai via coffee, but to actually see them through to fruition, is truly inspiring.